#59 You don’t have time to spare
As a start-up, time is your most valuable asset. I know that, but I’ve not been doing a great job safeguarding my time as that one thing that could make or break this project. And of course, this week, we had an odd family milestone that shook my foundation of the true meaning and impact of time when it comes to raising a family. It was a great reminder that time is something that none of us can afford to waste.
This week, I added a very important failure to my list of things to avoid at all costs: wasting time. Time is the one thing in our lives that’s finite and fleeting. Time is the great equalizer.
So we did it! We hit a massive milestone of 10,000 downloads this week (it’s more like 10,500 at this point of recording) but nonetheless, it’s super exciting and I’m grateful to you for continuing to tune in. We’re baking a beautiful cake to celebrate this Saturday with some close friends who have believed in the project and supported me from the very beginning. Let’s be honest, I’m up for any excuse to throw a little party!
I also updated the theme on my site this week and now there’s this beautiful gray, large gray I should say, band across every page that I can’t get rid of. Last time I updated, I lost all audio capacity, so this time I’m grateful that it’s just an aesthetic problem. Maybe I need to set up a dummy site so I can test my updates before making them live!
I’ve had a couple of fantastic partnership and advertising meetings this week along with some thought-provoking interviews and the combination of both is where the theme of today’s episode came from. Ya know, I love people and when I worked in an office, I used to love meetings. In many ways, they were a welcomed diversion from the everyday and injected a burst of energy into an idea or project. I’m also an incredibly effective group thinker. In fact, one of the hardest parts of running my own business is losing that bounce-the-ideas-of-the-walls brainstorm sessions that, when done well with the right people, undoubtedly yield more passion and excellence than going solo does.
Who Has Time For Face-to-Face Meetings?
Ironically, over the past two months I’ve found myself skirting most face-to-face meetings. Sometimes, people are super gracious and understanding; other times I find myself inadvertently offending when I ask for a 30-minute Skype meeting instead. [As an aside, this secretly makes me happy because it proves that in such a high tech, low touch world, Shanghai expats a least still very much value face time!] Why in the world would I pass up a real live person for Skype? In my mind, and maybe it’s just the nature of my business, I am incredibly effective over the phone and on Skype. To me, they’re literally one in the same and so in the end it comes down to the value and scarcity of my time.
I live in Pudong – Jinqiao to be exact – and without fail every person that would like to meet with me is on the other side of the river in Puxi. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Puxi. But from my house it takes me anywhere from 60-90 minutes to commute anywhere in Puxi. And oddly, I could commute from New York to D.C. in that time. So, with that tidbit in the back of my mind, once I’ve made the trek, it’s definitely worth at least an hour and a half meeting, and then of course you’ve got the trip back. So for one meeting, we’re looking at anywhere from 3 to 4 hours really. Calculate quickly how many Skype calls I can do in 3-4 hours and now before you accuse me of being heartless and not actually caring about meeting people face-to-face, please let me explain.
In case you missed the other wrap up when I mentioned this, to give you a bit of insight into this business: pumping out 5 podcasts a week is an amazing full time job – finding awesome people, connecting, coaching, interviewing, putting each episode through post-production and getting everything up online. Each 30-minute episode takes anywhere between 3-5 hours start to finish. And remember that doesn’t count any other business function; that’s JUST producing the product. So, that really got me thinking: What’s the value of my time? It’s truly the entire success of my business.
I interviewed entrepreneur and educational coach, Tess Robinson, this week and she said something that I can’t stop thinking about. Her response to the prompt, “Tell us about a time you failed” was fascinating. She said, “I’ve yet to fail.” At first, I was a little put off, I mean what entrepreneur wants to hear another say with confidence that they’ve never failed? Yeah, exactly! But in our pre-interview, as I dug a bit deeper into her response, we uncovered probably one of the most profound methodologies I’ve heard on the show yet.
You’re Not Allowed To Fail
In her industry, she and her team, hold the futures of students in their hands as they work to prepare them for the boarding school and university acceptance process. In her words, “She can’t afford to fail. There’s too much at stake.” She went on in her interview to define what failure meant in her business and how she did every thing in her power to prevent any one of those failures from happening. WOW! I think this principle is applicable to each and every one of our lives, whether you’re a student, mom, dad, entrepreneur, professional, executive, man, if you’re breathing, you can apply this.
How? Well, first clearly define what failure means for you either personally, professionally, or both. Here’s an example: one failure in my business would be not launching 5 episodes a week. That’s what I promised and I need to come through on that. Another would be launching a podcast that I wasn’t genuinely uplifting, positive or thought-provoking. Dull, boring content would be failure in my eyes. Thus, I need to spend my time and energy on making sure that I launch 5, engaging, positive podcasts that motivate, empower and connect China’s expats each week. If I do that, that’s the first step on the road to success.
On the other hand, not responding to an email this very instant, and even not hitting my download goal for the day? Nope, that’s not failure because it doesn’t put the continued growth or success of LimitlessLaowai at risk! Tess helped me see that those shouldn’t fall in the failure category and boy, was it freeing!
Time Is Too Precious To Waste
This week, I added a very important failure to my list of things to avoid at all costs: wasting time. Time is the one thing in our lives that’s finite and fleeting. Time is the great equalizer. Each day, we’re all blessed with the same number of seconds to use.
Passport Renewal – A Wake Up Call?
Ron and I arrived at a really interesting milestone in our family this week that I wouldn’t have ever considered a milestone except that it’s stirring up a whole bunch of mama stuff inside of me.
When you have a baby abroad, you obviously need to get a passport right away. Our firstborn, Brie, still has a slightly misshapen head in her passport picture which was taken lying on my lap at 5 days old, in summer 2010. I remember holding her new passport thinking, Wow, we’ll have to renew in 5 years. 2015. That’s an eternity away. Well, eternity arrived in the Mona household this week as Ron’s company called for us to renew her passport before her upcoming 5th birthday and the reality of time and it’s precious value hit me like a ton of bricks.
At this vital time of growth for LimitlessLaowai, I’ve learned that choosing to utilize the time I’m given in not the most efficient way, means potential failure in my business and ultimately in the inability to serve my listeners. Choosing to under-utilize and undervalue that time that I’ve been given with my family, means absolute failure to cultivate and engage in some of the most unique and meaningful relationships I’ll ever be blessed with. Both are unacceptable.
Safeguarding Against Failure
I came to the conclusion this week that doing everything in my power to safeguard against both of these newly redefined failures will be my focused goal in the months and years to come. When 2025 comes, and God-willing Brie is once again renewing her passport, I want to confidently trace our steps through these 10 fruitful years and know in my heart that I didn’t cheat her or anyone I care about by undervaluing the precious time we were given.
What About You?
I urge you to take time this week and answer these two questions: What do you need to redefine and stop calling failure when it’s not and where might you need to allocate more of your time to safeguard against the things that are actually putting your professional and personal goals at risk?